07 July 2016
The SEB further rejects the suggestion that the former Solicitor General Advocate Howard Sharp QC – a Crown Appointment – is not constitutionally independent.
The Complaints Board is critical of Advocate Sharp QC’s report yet implicitly agrees with many of his findings, including that Mr Alwitry should have been given an opportunity to respond to the criticisms made of him prior to termination of the contract.
Advocate Sharp’s report is the only objective report based on in-depth interviews with ten people, including Mr Alwitry. The Complaints Board only heard from one witness and did not have the opportunity to question Mr Alwitry because he did not attend on the day, but was represented by his advocate.
Mr Alwitry did have the opportunity to correct any misunderstanding and misconception before the former Solicitor General’s report was finalised. Any and all observations were considered prior to the completion of his report.
The Solicitor General’s report concludes that while procedural aspects of the case were unsatisfactory, even if they had been correct, the outcome would have been the same, because the relationship between Mr Alwitry and Hospital clinical leaders and management was dysfunctional and had broken down beyond repair.
Terms of reference
Almost one year before the hearing, the Complaints Board confirmed its terms of reference would consider that “the decision the panel will be considering involves the process resulting in the revocation of Dr Alwitry’s contract. It will not be looking at the grounds on which SEB withdrew the contract nor the merits of those grounds. They will also not be looking at matters relating to patient safety or whistleblowing protection.”
Unfortunately, at the hearing, without any prior notice, the Complaints Board departed from these terms of reference. It investigated the application process, the grounds and the merits of the decision to terminate the contract of employment and the subject of patient safety.
Therefore, the Board did not have all relevant material before it at the hearing given that it had departed from its terms of reference provided to the parties. It drew conclusions based on incomplete evidence and failed to deal with the first-hand evidence provided to the former Solicitor General.
In the light of the former Solicitor General’s report the SEB rejects the recommendation that it is reasonable to pay the equivalent of nearly four years’ salary from public funds to Mr Alwitry.
The Health Minister will issue a separate statement regarding the procedural matters referred to in the Complaints Board Report.
The SEB will in due course present a more detailed response to the requests and recommendations set out in the Complaints Board Report.